John Davies deconstructs the schedules (all times pm unless stated).
Pick of the week
Simon Schama's History of Britain reaches Richard II this week (Wednesday 9.30 BBC2), but fails to mention the greatest poet of his reign, Geoffrey Chaucer. Never mind - BBC Radio makes up for the omission by celebrating the 600th anniversary of his death with a Chaucer season. It starts on Saturday with Chaucer's Worlds (from 7.15 R3), which includes a retracing of the London-Canterbury pilgrim route, music from Chaucer's time and features on the poet's stay in Italy; his life as a soldier, diplomat and courtier; his use of English; and his influence on later writers. At the same time Radio 4 has an Archive Hour featuring versions of the Canterbury Tales (Saturday 8.00), while Sunday's Bookclub (4.00 R4) is about "The Miller's Tale".
SATURDAY October 21
The Shakespeare for the Millennium Lecture (6.30 R3). "How Not To Be a Hero": poet-critic Geoffrey Hill on Coriolanus.
Correspondent: Who Killed Lumumba? (6.50 BBC2). The involvement of Belgium and the US in the deposing and assassination of the Congo's first prime minister in 1961.
Chaucer's Worlds (7.15 R3) and Archive Hour: Chaucer (8.00 R4). See pick of the week.
SUNDAY October 22
5 Live Report (12 noon R5). "Experimenting with Us": are patients taking part in clinical drugs trials without giving consent?
Book Club (4.00 R4). See pick of the week.
Bach Year (4.45 R3). Joshua Rifkin on JSB's life in Leipzig, with contributions from Christoph Wolff.
The Happiness Lectures (5.40 R4). David Lodge reprises a lecture he gave earlier this year at Birmingham University.
Superhuman (9.10 BBC1). Robert Winston looks at "spare parts" for humans, from cochlear implants to transplanted hands.
The South Bank Show (10.45 ITV). Representations of Carmen on stage and screen.
Who's Afraid of the Ten Commandments? (12.15am ITV). Howard Jacobson, Amanda Pooler, Karen Armstrong and Nick Cohen debate that commandment about coveting.
MONDAY October 23
University Challenge (8.00 BBC2). University of Manchester v Sidney Sussex, Cambridge.
Equinox: Einstein's Biggest Blunder (9.00 C4). Exploring the ideas of Joao Magueijo and Andy Albrecht, the theoretical physicists who think the speed of light may not always be constant, thus upsetting Einstein's basic theories. The film also gives a basic primer on the development of relativity theory, concluding that "even when (Einstein) was wrong, somehow he is right".
WEDNESDAY October 25
Natural Design (11.00am, repeated 2.00, 5.00, 8.00 BBC
Knowledge). Parallels between design in evolution and manufacture.
Frontiers (9.00 R4). Origins of species, evolution's biggest puzzle.
A History of Britain (9.30 BBC2). Pick of the week. In part five, "King Death", Simon Schama takes us through more than 100 years, with special attention to the Black Death, Richard II and the Peasants' Revolt. A quick skip through the Wars of the Roses leads to a sequence on the Paston family.
Night Waves (9.30 R3). Gore Vidal gives another interview.
THURSDAY October 26
Costing the Earth (9.00 R4). The latest on CFC gases and the ozone layer.
Horizon: The Lost World of Lake Vostok (9.00 BBC2). About the huge lake under the Antarctic ice, and what British, Russian and US scientists might find there.
The Science of Secrecy (9.00 C4). The unsung Old Etonian who decoded the Zimmermann telegram in 1917.